lifestyle

Sick pay in Japan: What you need to know

20 Comments
By Liam Carrigan

Nobody likes getting sick, but in a place as hard-working as Japan, it can also be a financial burden. In a country where mandated sick leave isn’t really a thing, and the prevailing ideology is “if you can walk, you can work” it can be very tough to take time off to recover from all but the most serious of illnesses.

Of course, having to grin and bear it when you’ve got a heavy cold, fever or even a particularly aggressive hangover is just one of those things that come with the territory when we work in Japan.

However, what can we do when it’s more than just a cold? What if we have a terrible, debilitating accident, or we are hospitalized for an extended period of time?

Thankfully, there exists a government scheme to help cover medium to long-term illnesses such as this.

Unfortunately, you’re unlikely to find any mention of it in your orientation pack when you join your new company. The cynical truth is that many companies in Japan do not want this information shared, lest it harm their workers’ productivity levels.

Introducing…Injury and Sickness Allowance

However, today, please allow me to reveal to you the wonders of the Japanese government’s Injury and Sickness Allowance.

The basic aim of this scheme is to ensure that workers can have adequate recuperation time from medium to long-term sickness without incurring any major financial hit. In short, it allows a worker to take a period of absence from work for up to 18 months and still receive up to 66% of their regular salary.

Click here to read more.

© GaijinPot

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20 Comments
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Unfortunately, you’re unlikely to find any mention of it in your orientation pack when you join your new company. The cynical truth is that many companies in Japan do not want this information shared, lest it harm their workers’ productivity levels.

There is a hell of a lot more than this that companies dont tell you about when you join, and learning to ask questions is up to the individual.

Why discuss this with an employee when they are first hired? When the need arises THEN they will, if you work for a decent company, will share the necessary information.

I was laid up, over 20 years ago, and out of work for 6 months, my company told me about this insurance, way back when. But they never said a word when I was hired.

Consider too, why talk to a new hire, about sick procedures? They didn't hire you to take time off.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

“if you can walk, you can work”

Like so many other areas of Japan's work culture, this is counter-productive to the assumed goal (maintaining productivity). When a sick worker comes in to work sick, first of all in that miserable state they won't actually be getting much work done, and second, they will likely spread their cold to other employees, thereby exponentially compounding the problem.

Sometimes you run in to people here who pride themselves on never having taken a sick day off - instead of being in awe, it just makes me thing they are really stupid.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

“if you can walk, you can work”

Sounds like something an SS guard would say to a prisoner at Auschwitz

Sometimes you run in to people here who pride themselves on never having taken a sick day off - instead of being in awe, it just makes me thing they are really stupid.

I couldn't agree more. That also goes for those who pride themselves on their overtime, also while sick sometimes. Just plain stupid.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

I am used to getting separate sick leave and annual leave (like most civilized countries), so when i came here i was surprised that sick leave is taken from your annual leave.

But while many of my Japanese coworkers will happily take the morning or the day off when they wake up with a headache, i would insist that they wheel my hospital bed into the office rather than using up a precious day of annual leave!! I came in to work the day after breaking myself snowboarding. Arm still in a temporary bandage (because you know, no hospitals are open on weekends), only taking an hour off to go get a cast put on.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

"Sometimes you run in to people here who pride themselves on never having taken a sick day off - instead of being in awe, it just makes me thing they are really stupid."

Starts at school. Attendance awards for kids who slept through most classes, but they were there!

4 ( +5 / -1 )

at my company persons seem to use vacation days as sick days,,, there is leniency however as one guy has been out for 3 years with psychological problems from bullying and they are letting him return to work. also, pregnancy and childcare leave at my company is very generous and most women take 1 year off at partial pay then come back.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Sick pay in Japan: What you need to know - It doesn't exist. There, article finished.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Sick pay in Japan: What you need to know - It doesn't exist. There, article finished.

Wrong, 100% wrong! People do not typically "use" sick days here because of the required paperwork involved. Sick days, and sick pay exist, it's called びょうきゅう byoukyu, people use their accrued annual leave instead because there is less hassle. Each company has their own guidelines for using sick-days. Using them though has the assumption of something more serious, not requires many times hospitalization. Simple illnesses dont count.

Just another thing folks should take the time to learn about working in a Japanese company.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

There was an tv show on the other day about the new employees who joined the world of work this April, in Japan, and I thought these types of things would come up but no it was the typical I want to stay in bed comments that new graduates have from around the world.

Everything else that is expected here is not raised as an issue and the only comment that stood out for was the orientation these new employees have also included how to be told off, act, by your boss lessons. Really? They need a lesson on how to grovel to the boss when they did something wrong!!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Australia New Zealand minimum 5-10 day sick leave paid, big companies + mental health days and 4 to 6 weeks holiday mandatory and a work day off every month. Neither country are in the top 5 economies and yet NZ has no deficit and both have economic growth rates. France work only 35 hours a week had an economic growth of 1%. What is going on in Japan, 25 hours OT a week holidays, well the same few days as everyone else. Yes there are Laws in Japan but the Government bodies refuse to Inforce them.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I took two month's sick leave, but it was for a brain tumor, and most of that time was spent in the hospital. My contract covered 100% pay for the first month, and 50% pay for the second month. Thereafter, if I had not returned back to work my company health insurance would have paid 80% of my salary for the remainder of my contract, or until I returned to work. Of course there was a lot of paperwork involved, basically I had to get an official leave of absence certificate, and an official reinstatement back from leave of absence certificate when I returned to work. But for serious illnesses like that, sick leave was not an issue. Ironically when I got food poisoning and was out for three days I was expected to take nenkyuu; but that was partly because I hadn't assembled the paperwork so didn't bother about sick leave.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

This isn't sick pay, I belive what this article is talking about is what we would call in the USA "disability leave" and is covered under the same umbrella that unemployment benefits are governed.

and

"Wrong, 100% wrong! People do not typically "use" sick days here because of the required paperwork involved. Sick days, and sick pay exist, it's called びょうきゅう byoukyu,"

Not 100% wrong. I am kyoumuin (which something like 20% of the country is) and was told I can use byoukyu all I want, but I won't get paid. My choices are nenkyu when I am sick and get paid, or use byoukyu when I am sick and pay is docked. So its not 100% wrong. (I am not complaining, I get more than enough nenkyu to throw around)

And

"hospitalized for an extended period of time" This is what I don't understand. Japanese hospitals and doctors want to admit you for months at a time for a stubbed toe for "observation". I once looked into getting my tonsils out and they told me it would take two weeks in the hospital. I told them I would much rather be sick. In the decade I have been here I have had to stay, luckily, only twice in the hospital, but had to fight tooth and nail each time to reduce my stay. Just a couple months ago I had a fever and the doctor wanted to admit me before he had even examined me or listened to what I had to say. Finally we got him to see I didn't need to stay in the hospital, but good lord they are so quick to admit people for extended periods for things that would require 90% less time in the states or be outpatient treatment. No wonder both timesI was in the hospital I was the ONLY one of working age (i.e., the only one under 70 years old) there because a hospital in stay in Japan is usually a couple weeks minimum and would be a death sentence for your job.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Not 100% wrong. I am kyoumuin

Notice I wrote company? Government employees are a different breed.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

place as hard-working as Japan

Should read: "place as long-working as Japan"

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Sick pay in Japan? Bwahahahaha! From my experience, the only way you get paid for sick leave is if you beg the company to pay you from your annual leave. Of course, this is totally illegal, but it's that or, don't get paid at all! Then, you turn around and try to use your annual leave and they say, "Why? Are you sick?" It's not me that is sick. It is the Japanese business culture that is sick!

0 ( +1 / -1 )

@Disillusioned its like a J-friend of mine who was complaining on facebook that his company forces him to work off the books for free and calls it "volunteer time" like that makes the illegality of all the better. Not only that but he was forced to use nenkyu for his recent sickness during the first 3 days of April, then they told him since he already used some vacation, he couldn't not take any days off until May. I honestly can not believe how widespread this type of activity is and accepted.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I honestly can not believe how widespread this type of activity is and accepted.

People allow themselves to be controlled, it's that simple.

Consider this though, in western countries vacation time is taken in weeks joined together, (typically speaking) Hence the "sick days", the number which vary between companies. Typically as well, sick days in a western country are treated like nenkyu here. No doctors notes, a call in to the boss, etc etc etc, and are paid for.

A lot of confusion stems from the difference.

Many if not most Japanese companies allow their employees to take nenkyu by the hour, I used to work in a place where it was allowed by the minute. Most people dont think about how many "days" of nenkyu they have, they consider it by how many hours they have.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I get paid sick days, but I have to show documentation that I sought medical care. A whopping 5 days annually, but I rarely use any because I'm basically healthy.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Yubaru, I work in a Japanese company. Regular sick pay does not exist if you need to take time off for a few days for fever/food poisoning/etc - Unless you use your annual leave. Byoukyuu of course exists if you have a serious injury/illness like stated above, but it's still just a portion of your regular salary.

So no, not 100% wrong.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Thanks for this great article! It’s important in Japan. I would like to add the discussion that it’s very difficult for foreigner to go to the doctor. Being sick, makes it much more difficult to speak

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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